Cher Public

Levine out all fall; Luisi new Met Principal Conductor

This just in from the Met press office: “After a fall last week that damaged one of his vertebrae, James Levine underwent emergency surgery on Thursday in New York, forcing him to withdraw from his performances at the Metropolitan Opera this fall…. While Levine will continue in his position as Music Director, Fabio Luisi has been named the Met’s Principal Conductor, with the new appointment taking effect immediately.”

“….He will replace Levine for most of the fall performances, conducting the new productions of Don Giovanni (premiering October 13) and Siegfried (premiering October 27), as well as the MET Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall on October 16.”

The complete press release follows:

New York, NY (September 6, 2011) – After a fall last week that damaged one of his vertebrae, James Levine underwent emergency surgery on Thursday in New York, forcing him to withdraw from his performances at the Metropolitan Opera this fall. Levine was scheduled to begin orchestra rehearsals for the new season today. According to his doctors, he was successfully recuperating from another back surgery when the accident happened while he was on vacation in Vermont.

While Levine will continue in his position as Music Director, Fabio Luisi has been named the Met’s Principal Conductor, with the new appointment taking effect immediately. In April 2010, Luisi was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Met. He will replace Levine for most of the fall performances, conducting the new productions of Don Giovanni (premiering October 13) and Siegfried (premiering October 27), as well as the MET Orchestra concert at Carnegie Hall on October 16.

“While Jim’s latest setback is hugely disappointing for all of us, he joins me in welcoming Fabio’s larger role,” said Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager. “I am very pleased that Fabio was able to rearrange his fall schedule, and I appreciate the understanding of those companies with whom he was scheduled to conduct.”

In order to replace Levine, Luisi had to cancel performances with the Rome Opera, the Genoa Opera, the Vienna Symphony, and the San Francisco Symphony.

“I am honored to have been asked to take on these additional responsibilities, but my thoughts are also with Maestro Levine,” said Luisi.

Luisi will conduct the first five performances of Don Giovanni on October 13, 17, 22, 25, and 29 matinee, and Siegfried on October 27 and November 5 matinee. Louis Langrée will conduct the remaining four performances of Don Giovanni on October 31, November 3, 7, and 11. Derrick Inouye will conduct Siegfried on November 1.

Levine hopes to recover in time to return to the Met in January for the new production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (premiering January 27, 2012), as well as for the full cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen in April and May.

Luisi made his Met debut in 2005 with Verdi’s Don Carlo and has also conducted  a new production of Richard Strauss’s Die Ägyptische Helena (2007), as well as revivals of Simon Boccanegra, Turandot, Elektra, Le Nozze di Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Rigoletto with the company. In addition, he has previously stepped in for Levine to conduct performances of Tosca (April 2010), Lulu (May 2010), Das Rheingold (March/April 2011), and, in the June 2011 tour of Japan, Don Carlo, La Bohème, and a concert with the MET Orchestra. He also conducted the MET Orchestra in concert with Natalie Dessay as soloist at Carnegie Hall in May of this year, again replacing Levine. This season, Luisi also conducts a new production of Massenet’s Manon (March 26-April 23, 2012) starring Anna Netrebko and a revival of La Traviata (April 6-May 2, 2012) with Dessay in the title role for the first time at the Met.

Luisi, a native of Genoa, is currently Chief Conductor of the Vienna Symphony and Artistic Director of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. He served as General Music Director of Dresden State Opera and Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra from 2007 to 2010, Artistic Director of the MDR Symphony Orchestra in Leipzig from 1999 to 2007, Music Director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande from 1997 to 2002, and Chief Conductor of the Tonkünstler Orchestra in Vienna from 1995 to 2000. He has appeared with many of the world’s most renowned orchestras and opera companies, including the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia Symphony Orchestras, NHK Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper, and Berlin State Opera. He made his Salzburg Festival debut in 2002.

Levine has had previous surgeries to address spinal stenosis, the most recent on May 31 and July 20 of this year. He is scheduled to conduct Götterdämmerung from January 27 to February 11, Das Rheingold on April 4, and three complete cycles of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen between April 7 and May 12. He is also scheduled to conduct concerts with the MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on January 15 and May 20. Levine, who made his Met debut on June 5, 1971 conducting Tosca, celebrated his 40th anniversary with the Met last season.

  • operaassport- you don’t have to tour internationally to have an international reputation… no matter how pedantic you want to get.

    • operaassport

      No, you don’t but then what’s the point of that reputation? Levine has had no real international career for many years so what music lovers in Albania or Zug think is about as relevant as what Silvio Berlusconi thinks of Kim Kardashian. Nada.

      Reputations are not careers; they’re just air based on reviews and not actual music-making. The truly great conductors have careers that go beyond borders and don’t exist solely between two cities on the East Coast of the USA.

      • operaasport you force me to be pedantic. A reputation in the music world means a great deal. Aside from the fact it entices travellers to go see etc- it is also tied to many products that people in other countries buy- like DVDs, CDs, snd HD movie tickets. Jimmy Levine has not been to Australia that I’m aware of- but among the bevy of OQ’s that are among my friends here, there’s not one that doesn’t know who JL is- and all of them like me think he’s a wonderful assett to the music world…and more!
        Your arguement (if it is that) is just plain silly- artists of his stature given technology reach everywhere which gets back to my original point- he is one who has a giant of a reputation around the world despite what any NY local might think.
        I’m confident that even my good friend harry would agree with me on this.

        • Harry

          Yes Ruxxy, Levine not only has a big and respected international reputation, but had one for many, many decades. The problem I think that makes so many people perplexed at the moment, is that ‘the musical scene’ and accepted traditions for what it is -- to be a conductor of ‘fame’ in the classical sphere, has changed during that same period. Also, Levine might be the last of a particular group. We are seeing all the standard criteria signposts once used: such as the Szell’s, the Reiner’s, the Monteux’s, the Ormandy’s or a Solti are gone. Listen to any one of these conductors’ recordings and you CAN feel their personality. What has always startled me was seeing some filmed performance of Levine and no matter how difficult and complex the score, he is the picture of inner control, at ease, and 100% prepared -- a master of his craft.

          We now seem to have too many conductors who are media helped beat-up tear-away sensations, more adept at playing career musical chairs than truly establishing a firm footing in any one place.

      • warmke

        Late coming back to this discussion. this is utter nonsense. The entire careers of Sergiu Celibidache and Carlos Kleiber defy such categorizations and are stil conductors of highest artistry. Just because Mehta will conduct anywhere his fee is met does not make him the greatest of conductors.

  • Melot’s Younger Brother

    I’ve been told (by someone who should know) that the Met has been negotiating for at least six months with a Levine successor. That person:

    (1) is an American
    (2) is not a kid
    (3) has a vast operatic resume
    (4) has held major posts in Europe and the U.S.
    (5) has conducted over 200 performances at the Met.

    I’m not sure that this will happen; what surprises me is that his name never comes up here.

    • ianw2

      Well, that has to be Conlon, no? Who I’d be very happy with (which is, of course, the Met’s primary consideration).

      If the gig was Luisi’s solely because he has the ability to swoop in and save the day at the last moment, the same reasoning would apply to the delightful Hong being scheduled to open the season.

    • operaassport

      Let’s pray to god that none of that is true. James Conlon conducts everything the same way: loud and dull. Time for the MET to move forward not back. If they’re looking for old American hacks they could look to Slatkin and Maazel, too.

  • Melot’s Younger Brother

    Anyone who isn’t Levine gets a chorus of jeering. I just don’t get it.

  • ianw2

    Few days old but in addition to my secret husband YNS, my other secret husband Alex Ross throws Andris Nelsons into the mix.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/09/james-levine.html?mbid=gnep

    • Nerva Nelli

      I didn’t travel up the Green Hill this year, but I thought Nelsons’ TURANDOT at the Met was lame, and his PIKOVAYA DAMA not very good. I was told by orchestra contacts that they were not impressed.

      • Camille

        This past year’s Pikovaya Dama was conducted by Nelsons?
        Limp. None of the magic that Gergiev brought out of the score. Major letdown. The entire production was truly not a patch upon the Gergiev/Domingo/Gorchakova/Olga/Dima one of the previous decade. That one I won’t ever forget.

  • It looks like the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma is going to take Luisi to court for breech of contract: he was supposed to conduct Elektra there.